Knight of the Trail (1915)
Bachelor Jim Treen (William S. Hart) decides to marry a local waitress (Molly Stewart) but before their marriage she learns that he’s the bandit the entire town is searching for. She ends up in the arms of another man (Frank Borzage) but what she doesn’t know is that he’s just planning on stealing all her money. This two-reeler has a downright stupid screenplay that nearly kills the film but there’s enough working here to make this worth watching. I’ll start with the negative and all the blame must go to the screenplay, which is a pretty routine setting as we just know the girl is going to end up with the loser and the ex is going to have to save the day. The funny thing is that it’s not even a minute’s worth of screen time that she dumps Hart and ends up with the other guy. The ending is downright cringe worthy as well but I won’t spoil it. What does make the film worth seeing are the performances with Hart leading the way. He certainly has no trouble playing this role as he’s quite good and believable. I must admit that I find him smiling a tad bit creepy but he has the perfect blank expression on his face that you can’t help but enjoy it. Future director Borzage is excellent in the role of the villain and you can’t help but imagine people back in the day would hiss at a character like this. Stewart doesn’t come off as well but she doesn’t hurt the film any. We get a pretty fast climax and some good locations so there’s enough here to make this worth viewing.